AKA: jersey top
How to say it: nit
- generally a pullover style top (small or no opening on the garment, so it must be pulled on over the head)
- made from a jersey knit, usually with no rib
- can be any style or design, but the fabric lends itself to fitted or drapey styles
…of the style: The knit top isn’t really a ‘style’ as such, it is more like a type – basically a knit top is any top made from knit fabric. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but are generally a pullover style and made from a jersey knit which is slinky, stretchy and lightweight.
Jersey knit fabric was first produced in Medieval times on the island of the same name (Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands in the English Channel). The first jersey fabrics were made from wool, heavier than they are today, and used to make garments for the fishermen of the island. The stretch, lightweight feel and ease of making the fabric soon made it a popular choice for sweaters and hosiery, but wasn’t worn as daywear until actress Lillie Langtry, also known as ‘Jersey Lily’ stepped out in a hip-length jersey knit top over a pleated skirt in 1879.
However, knitwear as daywear didn’t really hit the big time until the early 20th century thanks to Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel. Chanel began her fashion career in 1912 and by 1916 was selling jersey knit suits which were initially controversial (until this time jersey was still considered an underwear fabric) but quickly became popular and synonymous with Chanel herself. During this time designer Jean Patou released a line of cubist-inspired sportswear for women made from jersey which was also very popular.
Once knit fabric had found its place in the fashion landscape it never left – it has changed with the times and trends, and many design houses have built their empires on jersey and other knit fabrics.
In the 1940s, sex symbols like Lana Turner turned to knitted fabric to hug their bodies and show off their curves to their adoring audiences. In the 1960s the brands like Missoni and Sonia Rykiel dominated the market with bright patterns and clingy dresses. In 1974 Diane von Furstenberg launched her now iconic jersey wrap dress and in the 1980s sportswear trends (like the ‘dance wear ‘ trend – think Olivia Newton John or Flashdance) hit fashion, prompting brands like Ralph Lauren to jump on the knit bandwagon.
In the modern marketplace knitted fabrics are made from everything from the lushest of silks to the shiniest of rayons and is perhaps the most used fabric out there. Knit tops are available on all levels of the market and come in styles suitable for all facets of life – from a tight-fitting crew neck, to a softly draping cowl neck and everything in-between, modern fashion would be lost without knits.
…of the name: These types of tops are called knit tops because they are made from a fabric that has been constructed as a knit.
- Diane von Furstenberg was married to the German Prince Egon of Fürstenberg, making her a real life princess until they divorced in 1972.
21st Century Knit Tops
Knit tops are the absolute embodiment of versatility – pick a colour, a shape and a prices and chances are you will find a knit top to fulfil your desires.
Moschino Cheap and Chic, RED Valentino